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KIE Scholar Organizes International Bioethics Congress

The Kennedy Institute’s Rebecca Kukla will head up the program committee for the Feminist Approaches to Bioethics (FAB) International Congress in Rotterdam, the Netherlands this summer.

Kukla’s involvement with FAB began in 2007, when one of the organizers, Hilda Lindemann, approached her. At the time, Dr. Kukla was working on Mass Hysteria, her well-known book on the culture of motherhood and obstetrical care, plumbing through books the size of a pregnant woman’s torso on the history of medicine. Having heard about Kukla’s project, Lindemann asked her to serve as a co-coordinator for the congress that year.

FAB will celebrate its 20th anniversary this year; since its birth, the organization has grown at a booming rate. When Kukla became involved with FAB, the organizers made a commitment to branch out and engage in global outreach to get people in multiple disciplines in multiple countries involved. Now, at least 30 different countries on 6 continents are represented by FAB’s members. In the past, the international congress has been held in Croatia and Singapore. For many participants, the congress is a unique opportunity to collaborate in person and work through ideas with other bioethicists from across the globe. Kukla says, “I look forward to being with intellectual peers who I wouldn’t see or meet otherwise.”

This year, FAB welcomes royalty to its congress for the first time. Baroness Nancy Warnock (of the famed “Warnock Report”) will be the keynote speaker. Dr. Kukla will be presenting on a panel about research on pregnant women. She and her colleagues are looking at the principle of equipoise and how it works in the unique case of pregnancy with the woman and the fetus. This scenario introduces more unknowns than are usually present in research and forces researchers to consider two different bodies during studies.

All of the papers selected for the FAB Congress will be published in a special edition of the International Journal of Feminist Approaches to Bioethics (IJFAB). Two Georgetown graduate students — Jake Earl and Laura Guidry-Grimes — submitted papers to the congress and both have been accepted for presentation and publication. Kukla is thrilled that in spite of the tough competition and FAB’s low acceptance rate, Georgetown went two for two this year!